The Four Seasons in Limassol, Cyprus has been open since 1993 and is independently owned and operated by Muskita Hotels Ltd. It’s a Five Star deluxe property with 304 rooms, 6 restaurants, 4 bars, and extensive conference facilities, Shiseido Spa, a full range of sports and fitness facilities and a shopping area with exclusive boutiques, watches and jewelry. The Hotel is situated on its own sandy beach, which has been awarded with the Blue Flag (a symbol of cleanliness and safety awarded by the European Community) and is 8 kilometers East of Limassol city center.
The Four Seasons’ management is constantly looking for effective ways to build strong relations with its customers and optimize sales programs. The Hotel’s website is its important marketing tool that helps the property to attract and retain elite guests from all over the World.
Mr. Nick Aristou, the property’s Executive Director, decided to enhance the website with an online business chat solution. “Our objective was to make it easy for our customers to navigate the website,” says Mr. Aristou. “Also, we wanted to convert as many visitors into customers as possible by making it easy for them to complete bookings.”
Mr. Aristou, who has a strong technology background, did a thorough review of available products, including such market leaders as LivePerson. However, none of them matched Four Season’s specific needs. The main limitations were the lack of multilingual support, patchy compatibility with tablet users and absence of robust archival features.
Then Mr. Aristou came across LiveWebAssist, a chat solution deployed on the IceWarp site, and realized it was the perfect match. He decided to try it out on the Four Season’s site, but then found out it was not the final release yet. Still, Mr. Aristou went ahead and launched LiveWebAssist at Four Seasons’ webpage, assigning three operators to interact with customers.
From the very beginning, the Four Season’s customer service team was making the most of LiveWebAssist’s multilingual interface and Knowledgebase support features to interact with customers in English, Greek and Russian.. The property’s sales and marketing team started to see LiveWebAssist’s effect almost immediately – the bookings increased.
“LiveWebAssist contributed a lot to this on many occasions,” says Mr. Aristou. “Our analysis showed that customers booked because they were given real-time explanations through the chat service.”
Four Season’s technology team also liked LiveWebAssist’s capability to recognize returning Website visitors.
“The excellent feature helps an operator to resume the conversation from the same spot where it was ended or interrupted,” says Mr. Aristou. “That makes users spend on average 7-8 minutes on the site, a very high indicator.”
In an approach radically different form other chat products, LiveWebAsisst supports the InLine no-flash chat architecture, eliminating pop-up windows. This design allows more visitors to initiate chat sessions, because they don’t have to deal with popup blockers and assures usability for visitors from tablets like iPad or Android.
Additionally, this option gives actionable information about the visitors’ behavior.
“The operators can tell exactly where the user is on the site, so they can offer them immediate assistance, tell them where to go and answer questions with a high degree of relevancy,” says Mr. Aristou. “It’s a very useful feature.”
LiveWebAssist’s analytical capabilities helped the hotel to optimize its Internet marketing strategy.
“LiveWebAssist analytics capabilities are very good,” notes Mr. Aristou. “They are helping us to locate sources our customers are coming from. It’s a very effective tool, especially when used in conjunction with Google analytics.”
Another feature Four Seasons’ team found practical is LiveWebAssist Knowledgebase. At any point of the conversation, it allows to insert pre-approved messages (such as terms and conditions, cancellation policy, etc.) as well as URLs and graphics with a single click.
“It has been very useful, we have almost three pages of knowledgebase content now,” notes Mr. Aristou. “The option provides more professional outlook and helps to standardize responses. Operators don’t have to think about how to phrase them. In the near future, we are planning to extend the knowledgebase with images and, possibly, videos.”
According to Four Seasons’ technology team estimates, the training and ramp-up process was painless.
“The functionality of the program is simple, anybody who can use a social chat program can get accustomed to LiveWebAssist very easily,” notes Mr. Aristou.
For the support function, Four Seasons team used LiveWebAssist Direct Chat Technology, the VIP connection that gives dedicated access to key IceWarp support personnel. This option makes it possible to reach the important contacts no matter where they are – at their desktop, off-site, or on the road.
“The VIP link option has been very useful, and IceWarp support team was very prompt,” says Mr. Aristou.
Four Seasons is now planning to expand LiveWebAssist functionality.
“We are considered using it on mobile devices, and, possibly, integrating the solution with a new CRM system,” says Mr. Aristou.
In the future, the property is thinking about hiring more operators and starting to use LiveWebAssist automated translation functionality.
According to Mr. Aristou’s estimates, LiveWebAssist was showing compelling ROI from the day it was implemented.
“Just from my own observation, from the number of bookings that have been converted directly through LiveWebAssist, I can say that it has paid for itself almost immediately” says Mr. Aristou he would definitely recommend LiveWebAssist to other organizations in the hospitality industry.
“Selling hotel rooms is always a complex matter,” says Mr. Aristou. “Usually, hotel bookings for five+ star hotels are a very high-value item. It’s not a $10-20 purchase from Amazon. They are usually $5,000-6,000 per transactionand there are many issues for potential customers to understand before they actually commit to book. Anything that can give a customer greater confidence and prompt him to make a decision to buy is very valuable. LiveWebAssist gives us exactly that.”
Bankwest has been busy reconfiguring its service to meet the demands of expanding beyond Western Australia.
"Changing customer preferences and how they interact with organisations have become more demanding," Banwest CIO Andy Weir told reporters. "This means the bank has had to tweak how it deals with a 24/7 banking environment where the customer, not the bank, decides when and how they want to make a transaction."
Weir's introduction of quarterly "hack days" has reportedly seen hundreds of Bankwest employees pitching ideas on how to solve common problems or create ways to improve the customer experience. Products of hacks days include Bankwest's mobile banking apps and "smart search", a technology that enhances its electronic ID capabilities. Smart search allows contact centre staff to instantly recognise if an existing customer is calling and address them personally rather than having to start the identification process from the beginning.
The Philippine arm of Accenture has been recognised again as the Best Company of the Year at the recent International Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Awards Philippines 2014.
Accenture has now won the award three times after earning the honour in 2007 and 2012. Now in its 8th year, the International ICT Awards is organised by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines in partnership with Information Technology and Business Processing Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). The Awards aim to distinguish individuals and organisations that have exhibited leadership and excellence in the growing Information and Communications industry in the Philippines. Accenture was also earned the runner-up honors for the Best Employer of the Year Award for 2014.
According to the International ICT Awards, finalists for the Best Company of the Year Award are outstanding companies found to have been "the most inspirational role models for the Information Technology and Business Process Management industry and Philippine business community." "For almost 30 years, Accenture in the Philippines has championed the IT-BPM industry in the Philippines through our wide range of technology services, customer contact and back-office BPO services, and management consulting work for global and local clients," Accenture country manager Lito Tayag said.
Sydney, 9 April 2014 – Zuora, the global leader in subscription commerce and billing, has announced that Telecom New Zealand has chosen its subscription e-commerce platform to support the roll out of its mass consumer Big Pipe broadband service.
Big Pipe, one of Telecom New Zealand's first Telecom Digital Ventures incubator businesses, aims to bring uncapped and no-frills broadband Internet access services to the New Zealand consumer market. Zuora will provide the organisation with robust automated billing and a scalable platform to support growth and flexibility in pricing and packaging, collection and accounting of recurring revenue.
Zuora was chosen for its leading-edge technology with a proven track record in the telecom industry in creating a simple e-commerce experience, automated billing and payments, and integration with existing back end accounting systems. At the same time, Zuora will enable Big Pipe to rapidly scale as its businesses and customer volumes grow. Importantly, the cloud-based service also enables the organisation to manage all billing transactions within New Zealand.
Thomas Salmen, Telecom Digital Ventures' Chief Technology Officer, says, "Uncapped, no-frills broadband is one of the fastest growing segments in New Zealand. And Big Pipe is our anchor business for Zuora. We knew we needed a platform that was agile, that could automate our back-end processes, and be up and running quickly in order to fast track market acceleration for the Big Pipe business. Legacy platforms are simply not agile enough to support fast-growing businesses which require rapid deployment and seamless billing scalability. The solution took just 45 days to deploy and integrates with our internal CRM solution."
For Big Pipe specifically, the consumer sign-up process has been deliberately made as simple as possible. Big Pipe users Zuora's flexible product catalogue packaging and pricing capability to initially offer three different levels of consumer broadband Internet services to its customers all of which offer unlimited data usage.
As soon as a consumer clicks on their preferred plan, the Zuora platform takes over, gathering contact and billing information from the consumer. On completion, customer subscription information is passed to Big Pipe staff for back end processing. The first invoice is automatically generated by Zuora as soon as the customer's service is up and running. This is precisely the level of automation Big Pipe needed in order to capitalise on high consumer expectations for a great broadband service.
In addition, the Zuora subscription business platform allows Big Pipe to measure and review metrics critical to businesses with recurring revenue business models. It also provides insight providing up-to-the minute information on customer growth, revenue, collection, churn and financial reporting.
Greg Cullen, Vice President ANZ Sales, Zuora, said, "Within the telecom sector, the shift to the Subscription Economy is opening up all sorts of growth opportunities for network carriers worldwide. At it's core, Zuora is focused on enabling companies to transform their businesses. In fact, some of the most highly respected telcos in the world are using Zuora to support innovation. Telecom New Zealand is no different and exemplifies the possibilities of today's subscription economy in driving mass business transformation."
Telecom Digital Ventures is a business unit formed in early 2013 to look at new technologies and the new consumer needs and business opportunities that these will create. It is a dedicated growth business unit with a view to provide over-the-top services to consumers. Big Pipe is the first Telecom Digital Ventures business to go live on Zuora, however the organisation is expecting to roll out several new services over the next few years, many of which will be subscription services.
"I'm confident Zuora will continue help us drive business transformation in line with our strategy to continually innovate and as each new business is launched on the Zuora platform" adds Salmen.